Saturday, April 07, 2012

Twilight Zone

Folks check-in but they don't check-out. 
(Eerie music plays in the background)

I ran into the perfect RV campground for a horror movie. 

I've rented overnight camping spots in some pretty unique places but the one yesterday I showed up to stay in, literally took my breath away. A little voice inside urged me to tour the park before I committed to staying overnight. It was a sobering drive. 

The first tree I encountered was so low, it scraped across my roof giving me the willies. That is surely a bad sign. An RV had not graced their entrance in so long, the tree branches had grown too low across the road. My RV which is circa 1994, was at least 10 years newer than anything else in the park. 

It was the most depressing RV park I have ever seen. To give you an idea, I've been in junk yards looking for parts  and the RV's in the junk yard were in better shape than this RV park. Out of about 20 RV's parked on various lots, which strangely enough came with paved patios, only two had inflated tires still attached to their RV. Most were either sitting on rims or cinder blocks with no tires or rims at all. Several RV's were held together with duct tape and baling wire.  Some had plastic over their windows, because the windows no longer had glass.  Many had old worn out tarps stretched across their roofs. 

It appeared that quite a few residents were actively engaged in dumpster diving, as their little broken concrete patios were just covered in eclectic detritus as if a pathetic flea market might spring to life briefly.  

I smiled and waved at the various residents hanging about. They seemed to be sizing up my RV for spare parts.

While Harley looked out the window at our new campground, his tail slowly wagging off and on, as if he too was confused about the state of things.  It occurred to me that for all the folks lurking about, not a single pet was in evidence except for a sad cat, that was severely malnourished.  

I could just imagine going to sleep that night, waking up in the morning to discover my tires and engine had departed in the night sans my permission. As I carefully negotiated my departure, scraping under the trees,  Harley settled back down in his seat giving me worried looks. Normally when we enter a new park , he is an  enthusiastic bouncing ball of fur, paw prints all over the window, tongue hanging out as he excitedly studies his new temporary home and play ground. Not so today. 

We ambled down the street, then pulled over into a parking lot because my phone was ringing. I was planning to spend the night, then visit my friends in the morning. This RV park, was 12 miles from their house, and according to the map, the closest one to their neighborhood. They live in Orlando, which is in Orange County which has super strict laws that RV's can not visit anywhere but RV parks. I was once threatened with a $1,000 fine for visiting friends at their house in Orlando.  The officer explained to me, I needed to go park my motorhome in an RV park, rent a car, then come back to visit my friends. This is the same crazy county that recently passed a law that homeowners may not keep their boat on their property either.

At that time, I ended up staying in an RV park that was 40 miles away, because I couldn't find anything closer except Disney World which charges a small fortune for camping and was booked solid. I'd love to spend a day at Disney World, but entertainment that grand is surely not in my efficient budget. 

I knew that 40 miles down the road was a decent park, I had stayed there before. It's very old, but well maintained.  It was the next closest place to stay that had a vacancy.  I do have reservations at a public park on the other side of  Orlando about 20 miles away  for Saturday night, but I had already called them and Friday night was booked solid. 

Originally I had reservations for Friday night somewhere else, but through human error, the park had overbooked.  I had no idea it would be so hard to find a substitute. 

My friends were on the phone. "Where are you?  Are you coming to visit tomorrow?"  I explained that I had just pulled into a parking lot, and was planning to make a few phone calls to secure an RV reservation somewhere overnight. "Oh, to heck with it, sneak on over here and spend the night.  It's Good Friday and hopefully they won't be handing out tickets. "

12 miles later, I was entering their neighborhood. Though we talk by phone every week, it was the first time in a year since Harley and I had come to visit them at their house. They had gone with me to adopt Harley almost 2 years ago, so he is super affectionate towards them. He was excited and jumping up and down in his seat.  He burst into their once familiar house with boundless energy, giving everyone his happy attention, then he began seriously playing with their dog, who is the same age as him, though 10 pounds heavier. 

We moved outside to the back deck to enjoy the gorgeous weather. Harley chased their dog around the yard, then he would suddenly  race up on someone's lap, attempting to plant a doggy kiss, then veer off grabbing a dog toy, to taunt their dog into pursuing him. 

Their house which is always so lovely, quite beautiful and well organized,  was torn to pieces. They had hired a guy to redecorate a spare bedroom/office. He had emptied out the bedroom and its jumbo closet, depositing stuff on the couch, the dining table, the floor, the chairs, the corners, the piano, the buffet and so on. Then he ripped out the carpet, threw a bit of paint on the walls then vanished. That was a week ago. They have not seen him since. I just hated hearing that.  Numerous phone calls went out to the errant contractor, who clearly wasn't a professional. Most guys would steadfastly complete the job, collect their payment then move on to the next job. This guy was trying to stretch this  into a career. 

I woke up this morning, parked in their side garden, hiding behind the trees and shrubbery.   All the neighbors have their windows covered completely, so I doubt that anyone has noticed me... yet. 

But soon I am sneaking off again, to go get Easter provisions, as I am playing host tomorrow. I hope my campground reservations are straightened out at the new park, so I can check in. 


  1. If you run into trouble getting a space in the campground try staying at one of the local Cracker Barrels. We've stayed at several in the Orlando area without any problems.

  2. They may have been sizing YOU up for spare parts.

    For some reason, it is heartening to me that there are places where the truly down-and-out are even allowed to exist. I guess it's because there's a part of my brain that sees me as one of those folks, one day.

  3. GLD does have a good point. I've passed a few parks like that before. It is a bit nerve wracking.
    I hope I don't ever have to live in one of them someday! But my parts on myownself ain't so good..the RV, well it's probably in better shape than I am right now ;-)

  4. Sounds like the only thing missing from that park were a couple of guys with dueling banjos.

  5. Oh my gosh! what a great story! You are truly living all kinds of adventures. Love reading them!


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